How exciting for you! Traveling is always the best when you have some kind of a plan but nothing set in stone since your plans always happen to change a bit depending on who you meet, are with, and last minute thoughts!
For my last vacation, my girlfriend and I needed to plan out where we wanted to go, it went like this, Venice, Prague, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Lisbon, London, and Leicester. Orginally it wasn’t in this order but we need to consider certain holidays we wanted to be at (Queens Day in Amsterdam instead of the Prince getting married in London), certain dates we needed to make to meet up with friends in Prague, and the cheapest and best weather (to catch the sun in Barcelona and Lisbon).
To start of my trip, I found it easy to pick a time period to travel, so of course I was checking flight prices for a good 4 month on Expedia which gives you a for sure rate on a flight. But also check websites like Traveloptic
, they are really good at getting you a VERY last minute price on a flight out of the country, I found a last min cheaper price on traveloptic to London for about $200 less, SCORE!
FLIGHTS, TRAINS, & BUS.
The point was to get out to Europe at a good price, once you’re there, its time to figure out the plan. Here is where Ryan Air and Easy Jet are really cheap to get to where you need to go. Also, Expedia can come in real handy if you don’t want to convert your money and pay in dollars and it opens up to other airlines going to the country your aiming for. FYI, sometimes trains are as much as a flight so it might not ne worth it, but IMO, buses are still really cheap and a great way to get around IF you have the time.
Since we where on a budget, we decided to mix it up with Hotels, Hostels, & Campgrounds. By mixing it up, we saved and got to experience a different Europe.
Hotels, we decided there where just some cities we wanted a hotel and a good bed. So I booked hotels way in advanced for Venice & London via Exepdia (The reason I mentioned Expidia is because it charges your cc right away and you don’t have to worry about holds on your cc/atm while traveling, its paid for & not to mention your itinerary is online for reference).
Hostels, we booked through hostelbooker.com. They have honest reviews and maps to let you make your decision. Let me just say, the closer the hostel is to the area you want to be at, the better! The reason for this is you have to take inconsideration of the time spent in that city and if you would really want to take a bus, taxi or subway on the regular, TRUST me, it adds up quick$$$ (extra 20 on the hostel is cheaper than the taxis or trouble of the metro). Also, the hostels we booked, had private rooms if you don't want to share a room with a lot of people.
Campground, was actually not on my list but as our flight from Venice to Prague got delayed a day, yeah this was the best and cheapest option that ended up being a great move for us. This place was very reasonable, homemade meals were very cheap, and easy access to the bus stops.
WHAT TO DO?
Once at the city of destination, there is a lot to do! One thing I do recommend is to take the FREE walking tours, you usually find out about these at the hostel, online, and some touristy places and bars have fliers. There is usually like 2 or so a day, go to the early one, that way you can plan the rest of the day. Typically, you meet at a certain time downtown or a specific monument or statue, just look for the small crowd and ask, you will usually notice. The tours are around 2 hours and they usually end at a bar. All the tours I have been to, have been really good, informative, and NOT boring like some might think. At the end, it is customary to tip the tour guide since they don’t get paid; I usually have noticed 5euros/pounds/crowns is average per person. Usually the person giving the tour ISNT from that country but a fellow traveller that ended up staying there because they loved it. Another reason to take these tours, it social, you meet people and make new friends, fellow travelers that are looking to have fun and traveling to another cool places not on the your list but, F@ck it! New Plan!
Like mentioned above, light packing, only the MUST haves.
2 pairs of shoes at the most, make sure they are comfortable.
Be aware for your budget.
Sometimes for lunch or dinner, go to a grocery store and by a baguette, fruit, and wine, very inexpensive and delicious!
Give yourself ample amount of time before flights.
ALWAYS be close to your belongings, believe it or not, Americans look like Americans in another country, we stand out not matter what nationality you are from the U.S.
If you can pay for something’s way in advance before your travel, fights, hotels, hostels, and so on, do it! It’s nice not worrying about it when you get there.
Plans always change, adapt to them.
I know the countries I mentioned aren’t on your list but the advice still applies. Sorry that I wrote a book, just want to be through!
Remember, traveling is about food, culture, the people you meet and having a great time! HAVE FUN and be Safe!
[Edited: 2012 Sep 12 06:18 - Jmadrigal:249345 ]
[Edited: 2012 Sep 12 06:20 - Jmadrigal:249345 ]